Yesterday the Reading Roundup committee met to decide which librarian grant requests we’ll fund for this coming school year. Reading Roundup began in 2000 as a community-based committee that wanted to help the Springfield Public School district raise all of its school libraries to the highest level mandated by the state. On the way to meeting the target, about 190,000 new books were added to the system, enough books to make an imaginary stack one mile high. Thanks to the dedication of the board of education and its administrators, 135,000 books were added by the district while the remaining 55,000 came from donations through other sources, including Reading Roundup. Of the 190,000 total, nearly 90,000 replaced worn and outdated books. Springfield’s public school libraries had never been better.
Since 2007 we’ve changed our mission to grant requests from librarians that are specific to their particular student body needs and can’t be funded through traditional district budget channels. Over the fifteen years since Reading Roundup began we’ve seen many changes in the needs of school libraries and the ways in which they serve students. Keeping up, in these digital times, is a challenge for all concerned. In 2013 we turned over the reins of Reading Roundup to the Foundation for Public Schools. I no longer chair the committee but nearly all of our original committee members remain on board as we continue to seek ways to be helpful to the students in our public schools.
Winners of this year’s round of grant funding will be announced next month by Natalie Murdock, executive director of the Foundation for Public Schools. We’re about to kick off the fund raising part of each year’s campaign to replenish our reserves for next year.